How literal should your company name be? Should you incorporate the name of the industry you’re in, or the service you offer, so it’s easy to understand what you do?

I get this question often. Someone would say to me: “I am starting a business that offers sales consulting services, so I want to call it XYZ Sales Growth” or “I manufacture ceilings, so I want to call my business ABC Ceilings…”

The argument for doing this is usually related to that magic digital marketing term “SEO” – Search Engine Optimisation – namely how Google ranks your website and how easy it is to find it online. The logic goes that the closer your company name reflects the actual search term that people would type into Google, the easier you will be found, and the better the name!

None of this is wrong – or obviously wrong. There are arguments for and against this approach from a pure SEO perspective. But I am not a fan!

Calling your lawnmower company, “The lawnmower company” leaves nothing to the imagination. There is no story to it. It is, what it is. Nothing extra. It’s like “duh”…ok….next question…”what are the prices of your lawnmowers?”

My bias is towards names that make no sense, at least not on the first take. Names that force you to think a bit, that are intriguing and encourage you to ask about the story behind the name. It is these stories that give personality to a brand and that offer far more marketing value than something purely optimised for SEO.

There are many ways to clarify what your business does without having to force fit industry words into the name. You can use tag-lines, sub-brands and other descriptive additions, even the logo itself, to say what you do. The same goes for your ranking on Google, where the right content on your website is more than sufficient for SEO.

Branding is all about standing out from the crowd and infusing your marketing with a story that is interesting. It starts with how you name your company.

Are you the “Lawnmower company”, or “The dog pooh carpet company”?\

Let’s step away from those “duh!” names!